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Tech-enhanced tastes to sustainable sips: Bacardi’s top trends shaking up the drinks experience in 2024

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By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

January 22, 2024 | 8 min read

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From AI-powered flavor infusions to the new era of premiumization, we explore four key trends that the marketing industry can embrace from drinks and cocktail culture, per Bacardi’s 2024 Cocktail Trends Report.

Source: Barcardi Cocktail Trends Report 2024.

Source: Barcardi Cocktail Trends Report 2024.

If 2023 was the year of acknowledging a decade of change, 2024 is the year to embrace it. New experimental mindsets, value-added experiences; one industry at the forefront of this transformation is the drinks and spirits business – with 2024 bringing new tastes of optimism centered around the themes of social connection, togetherness, and ultimately experience.

As interest in exploration continues to rise, consumers are more discerning than ever about what they want and need from brands. The Bacardi Limited 2024 Cocktail Trends Report, created in collaboration with The Future Laboratory, confirms this. It explores the key trends set to redefine cocktail culture and the spirits business in 2024 – but these trends extend beyond the drinks sector, giving marketers in all industries an opportunity to recalibrate efforts around moments and experiences that matter.

“As the era of people-driven cocktail culture unfolds, drinks brands will foster a world where innovation, experimentation and betterment know no bounds,” says Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory. “Centered on social connection, togetherness and ultimately experience – the industry has the opportunity to set an example for the wider landscape, recalibrating and refocusing us all on the things that matter most.”

1. Tech-enhanced tastes

Just as AI has infiltrated almost every industry, the digital world is spearheading change in what, where and how drinks are enjoyed, providing new routes to personalization, brand experience and community. With this new expectation for personalization across brand interactions, AI is offering fresh possibilities for optimized cocktail moments, anytime and anywhere.

Eight in 10 younger consumers are looking to explore AI recommendations for drinks in 2024 – but 60% say they would miss the human touch and connection. For the drinks industry, AI’s evolution will create new paths to experimentation and discovery, with brand innovators using the technology as a tool to bring consumers closer to branded cocktails and experiences. For example, BarGPT is an AI cocktail generator platform featuring almost 14,000 user-generated recipes to date – allowing users to enter ingredients, spirits and themes to create their own virtual cocktail and recipes.

Moving forward, emerging technology will be utilized to create more intelligent, immersive and personalized consumer journeys – catering for drinkers’ unique needs in digital spaces, in real life and everywhere in between. It’s also set to re-invent drinks commerce by creating deeper connections with consumers through streamlined digital platforms that understand their needs.

2. Limited libations

In a tough economy, next-gen drinkers are living by the motto “less but better”, setting the stage for a new era of premiumization across key spirits and no and low (NoLo) alcohol categories – which is poised to grow by 67% to $359m by 2026, according to Mintel. Far outpacing traditional alcohol’s volume growth, the influence of NoLo moments will continue to drive innovation and elevated offerings to support inclusive experiences, and will become synonymous with choice, quality and flavor.

In the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey, seven in 10 respondents say they’d pay more for quality spirits when choosing a drink – tequila unanimously ranking as the number one premiumization category globally. This focus on quality over quantity provides a key opportunity for brands to reposition cocktail moments as a gateway for experience and discovery beyond the drink in hand.

“People’s desire to fully enjoy life is translating into selecting limited edition cocktails to match once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” says Brenda Fiala, global vice-president of strategy, insights and analytics, Bacardi. “They are willing to pay more for something extra-special and once you have the best, it’s hard to go back to the ordinary.”

3. Sustainable sips

With screen fatigue, doom scrolling and global uncertainty on the rise, consumers are reframing their relationship with the natural world; outdoor recreational pursuits are undergoing a next-gen revival as sustainability becomes a non-negotiable. Because of this, drinks brands are transforming their connection with the environment through new sustainably sourced ingredients and eco-innovations.

Research from IWSR shows that 48% of alcohol drinkers in the US say they consider a company’s sustainability or environmental initiatives before purchasing – and are willing to pay more for sustainably made drinks or cocktails. Bacardi’s Global Consumer Survey shows that the top three sustainable priorities are reducing single-use plastic (52%), recyclable packaging (42%) and helping to preserve clean water (38%).

But all of this will require greater collaboration, says Magaly Feliciano Lozada, global sustainability director, Bacardi: “Acting responsibly is not about acting alone. From farmer to blender to bartender, it’s only by working together that we can bring about real change.”

4. Destination drinks

Travel isn’t just back on the agenda, it’s top of the list – consumers flocking to destinations en masse to make up for lost time. In the drinks world in 2024, this will see the connection between drinks and destinations deepen as consumers seek nostalgic, convivial moments. The where and when consumers enjoy drinks is changing, driving a rise in non-traditional venues, like festivals.

Thanks to ‘the Barbie effect’, pop culture and entertainment will continue to lend its styling and aesthetics to food and drink, leading to the evolution of color and vibe-themed serves; this reinvention of visual appeal is the number one reason for consumers photographing their drink. Pop culture themed serves are expected to become a mainstay in 2024 with drink-themed aesthetics like Tomato Girl and Martini Girl inspiring trending flavors – both within and beyond the drinks industry.

“Entertainment is reclaiming its power-house status,” explains Raymond. “With viewers extremely keen to engage in real-life activities and associated activations, brands are uniting consumers around particular moods and feelings, creating dedicated communities and engaged fans in the process.”

From the trends highlighted in the report, it’s clear that future-fit brands looking to create new inroads to discoveries will embrace innovation, elevation and re-invention in 2024 to ensure that amid every change, individuals can always make the choice that’s right for them. With a greater focus on experimentation and experiences, brand marketers in all sectors have an opportunity to propel consumers to unexpected destinations – creating feelings and moments that long outlast the serve.

To explore all of this and more, download the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report 2024 here.

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Bacardi

Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held international spirits company, produces, markets, and distributes spirits and wines. The Bacardi Limited portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels, including BACARDÍ® rum, PATRÓN® tequila, GREY GOOSE® vodka, DEWAR’S® Blended Scotch whisky, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin, MARTINI® vermouth and sparkling wines, CAZADORES® 100% blue agave tequila, and other leading and emerging brands including WILLIAM LAWSON’S® Scotch whisky, D’USSÉ® Cognac, ANGEL’S ENVY® American straight whiskey, and ST-GERMAIN® elderflower liqueur. Founded more than 161 years ago in Santiago de Cuba, family-owned Bacardi Limited currently employs approximately 9,000, operates production facilities in 11 countries and territories, and sells its brands in more than 160 markets. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.

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